Within a few months, First Watch, “the daytime café” will have 100 locations centered around the Midwestern United States. The Florida-based chain markets something particularly delicious for hungry customers; the bright cafe specializes in healthy and creative alternatives to the traditional dishes. The café markets some very holistic options heavy in fruits and vegetables, though heartier, less healthy options are available too. Athletes and runners stop in after long runs or cycling trips, and couples looking for an early start on the day gather for something tasty.
- The tri-athlete omelet: Made from egg whites and sautéed vegetables to keep the calorie count low while maintaining protein and flavor. Buttery biscuits are substituted for “dry” English muffins, and plenty of the dishes have an appreciable side of fresh fruit.
- Pancakes: The tri-fecta pancake options comes with pancakes, served with a grain batter and powdered sugar. They’re heavy and warm, but they’re still great.
- Beefeater: A great roast beef sandwich, the kicker to this one is it’s served between two pieces of sourdough bread grilled with parmesan cheese. A little on the salty end but still good.
- French Toast: Served in just the perfect size, this toast has just a bit of powdered sugar to make it great.
- Crepes: I like how healthy they are. They forgo fatty cream and instead use fresh fruit and yogurt.
- Waffles: The great thing about these are how crispy they are. Just a bit of butter and syrup and you’re set.
- Avocado toast: A simple toast with chopped avocado on top. A nice, quick start to the day.
- Huevos Rancheros Tostadas: A wintertime seasonal dish at First Watch, this one features crispy corn tostadas topped with smashed avocado, sunny-side eggs, chorizo and feta, topped with salsa, crema, and cilantro for good measure. All those fresh ingredients! Wonderful.
- Super Seed Protein Pancakes: Not your typical wheat pancake, this one has oats, cottage cheese, kasha, sunflower, flax and chia seeds. They add a wonderful whole-grain taste, which is sweetened by some fruit on top.
- Smoked Salmon Benedict: ciabatta piled high with smoked Sockeye Salmon, red onion and tomato and covered with hollandaise. Kind of reminds me of lox. But full of wonderful protein and a smoky, sweet combo.
- Veggie Burger: A classic, and a nice, seedy alternative to heavier options on the menu. Kind of classic.
- Tomato bisque: Warm, comforting, soupy. ‘Nuff said.
There are heavier options which are less healthy, such as the Key West Crepe, which is stuffed with eggs, turkey and bacon, or the Chimichanga filled with chorizo sausage, chicken, eggs, cheese and vegetables. They aren’t as advantageous for a dieter, but if you’re not watching your waistline there are things on the menu. They’re nothing special, though, and if flavor’s all you’re after you can find diners with less expensive and tastier (albeit fattier) dishes. You really can’t go halfway with the whole healthy thing; First Watch was made for lean and fresh.
The environment is absolutely fantastic; each restaurant is designed with a very fresh, very happy mood; ample windows let a lot of sunlight in, and a simple, minimalist interior make the entire restaurant just glow. It’s a pleasant, bright feeling. First Watch has limited hours, so they’re open at the crack of dawn and closed by mid-afternoon. Make sure you don’t have late lunch plans. What’s more, the place seems frequently crowded with a wait all day; inevitably you start to feel a little rushed after awhile. It’s a shame, too, because the mood is otherwise very nice, and the staff are exceptional at getting food out quickly and being friendly and helpful.
It’s refreshing to see a restaurant with such an emphasis on healthy food. It’s even more refreshing to see that place doing well enough to open 100 locations, and with a constant crowd of hungry patrons. You’ll want to save room for a visit to this place.
- Double check the hours before you head in; First Watch is generally open only in the morning and closed by mid-afternoon.
- Also, try to come in early. The rush routinely sees lots of people in the restaurant, and you get a little rushed otherwise.
- Definitely bring your health nut friends in for the best experience.